Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rejection, Yet Hope

I received another rejection in the mail. Again, a little 3x5 card with what equals a "thanks but you're not Sandra Brown" rejection. I hate that I don't even rate a letter. Grr.

However, the karma forces in the universe aligned to make up for the bad agent experience described below, and I got a request from an agent (and a blogger, but I'll protect their identity) asking to see more of my book. Although, the email does say that it may take up to two months to get back to me, though they try to be faster. (The response came from an email query that I sent in the first batch of queries a month or so ago) Finding an agent is definitely an exercise in patience and getting thick skin.

So I'm perturbed, but cautiously excited. I'm back up to a total of two agents who were savvy enough to see the potential in my work, with over half of my queries still unaccounted for. Both agencies show a lot of potential and really seem to want to work with their authors over a career, and not just a book. Neither, however, is located in New York. I'm not sure if that should matter or not, but I guess I'll learn as I go.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Update on NY Literary Agency

Well, I responded in a most formal manner, very professional, asking if they could answer a few questions for me. I used a list that the AAR suggested a writer ask an agent, but modified it to apply to me.

I got a response today, which I won't include all of, but here's the gist.

We have seen these questions before and realize that you are 'copying and pasting' the questions to me. Here they are with my copy and paste answers.
There's no "Hello, Carmen. Thank you for your questions." Nothing civilized. Just a snippy response. Obviously, I wouldn't want to be treated that way by an agent that would be representing my work. Not only that, but they answered questions that I didn't ask. The one I asked that they didn't answer was "can you tell me the titles of books you've published in my genre?" Can you say sham? And I'm so frustrated that I was taken in.

I will be nice, however, and respond with a no thank you. Kill them with kindness.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Short-Lived Excitement

Remember when I told you about the one agency that asked for my full manuscript to read? Well, I got an email today saying that they liked my manuscript and wanted to represent me. I then did a search on the agency, because as part of signing the contract, they wanted me to pay to have a critique done of my work. They can make a recommendation, or I could use a third-party of my choosing. Turns out, the critique company they recommend is one of their subsidiaries. All over the writer boards there are BEWAREs and STRONGLY NOT RECOMMENDED.

Well, crap. I fell into a scam. I did send them back some questions that the Author's Representative group suggested you ask any agent that offers to represent you. We'll see what they say, if anything. I'll keep you posted.

Because the agency isn't legit, I'll post their name so other writers can be helped.

Thank you for everything that we have received from you thus far. Our review team believes that your work has commercial potential and we would like to proceed by offering to represent you. We feel that your concept and writing thus far has potential and that if polished and presented properly, we can sell it. To take the next step, please let us take a minute to tell you a little bit about how we think and do business.

To take the next step, please read the information below and follow the instructions at the end of this email.

Best regards,
Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions: New York Literary Agency

P.S. We apologize in advance for the length of this email. This is at the behest of our lawyers. They like it when we say it the same way every time. If this email appears truncated at the bottom, please let me know.

INCUBATING TALENT: We are willing to develop new, fresh talent.
We did see a few improvements are needed in your work, but don't worry, we receive very few 'ready-to-go' manuscripts. Most manuscripts that we receive need some level of polishing before we can submit them to buyers. Over the years, we've learned that it is worth our time and effort to do what it takes to develop new talent. We've learned that incubating new talent makes good business sense.

We'd hate to lose a good writer by not accepting someone who is willing to improve. There are very few literary agencies that will take the time to develop talent. Most barely return emails. We've answered every email you've sent us, and we've kept our promises regarding turnaround times. We hope that you will acknowledge that our level of communication and professionalism already far exceeds that of other literary agencies. We pledge this same level of professionalism and courtesy in all
subsequent communications should we work together.

You don't know us, and we don't know you. We like your work, and hopefully so far, you appreciate that we have treated you professionally and efficiently. Yes, we use forms, but that's so that we have more time to answer your questions about specific problems or nuances. We are looking for authors that are reasonable in their expectations and in their own evaluation of their work. We don't want prima donnas.

If we were in your shoes, we believe you should be looking for a professional relationship with professional people who will ultimately benefit your writing career, whether your work is sold or not. We never promise a sale. However, we do promise that we will work with you on a professional basis and do what we can to promote you and your work to our buyers.

What do we mean by "Polish your work"?
We are very concerned about what we present to our buyers. At a minimum they
expect the mechanics of punctuation, grammar, spelling, and format to meet or exceed industry standards.

I think you can agree that your work needs some level of polishing. However,we don't think you should take just our word for it; we would like to have an independent review of your work that shows you where the improvements can be made.

This step is equal to an investor trusting a certified public accountant; if there is an independent review on the table, we can each relax and trust each other, and spend our time strategizing marketing, not arguing over whether the work is ready to present or not.

What we have learned over the years is that nothing is more invaluable than having an unbiased, critical review of an author's work as a roadmap for bringing the work to market. In writing circles this is called a critique. We want you to have a critique of your work. You might already have one, or you may need to get one.

HAVING A CRITIQUE PROTECTS YOU from unscrupulous agents. Having a critique protects US from egocentric writers who think their work is just fine like it is. If the critique says, "Green light--good to go" then we can start marketing immediately. If the critique says, "Some improvements can be made in grammar, punctuation, etc," then we can pause with you while those changes are made.

On and on, blah blah blah. (Slap my head) DOH!

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Old Hat and a Scare

Another one for the collection
Dear Writer:
Thank you for your interest in (agency and website). Please know that I appreciate and respect the time, effort and imagination you have put into your manuscript. I wish that time would permit me to respond to your work in a more personal manner, but the volume of submissions that I receive does not allow me to do so. I have read your query letter and brief synopsis and am sorry to write that I am declining further interest in this project. Please feel fre to query me with future work.
Agent B

And then I got an email from the agency that wanted to see my full manuscript. Scared me to death to open it. Turns out, it was just an acknowledgement that they received my email and manuscript file. DON'T DO THAT! Ack. :)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Two More for the Collection

Two more SASEs came back to me in the mail this weekend, filled with wonderful little rejection letters. My writer friend tells me it's part of the game. I have to keep repeating that to myself over and over. :) Seriously, though, I'm really going to write a book with my rejection letters. I've never seen such drivel written on letterhead, unless you count the memos at my office. :)

Dear Author:
Thank you for submitting your query to our agency and giving us the opportunity to consider your work. Unfortunately, in today's increasingly tough publishing market, we cannot offer you the support that you need for your project. Currently, we are cutting back on our client list and are extremely limited as to what type of fiction and non-fiction we will be pursuing.

Our limited time precludes us from recommending other agents or publishers more suitable for your book. But, for an excellent resource on finding an agent and publisher for your book, we recommend Jeff Herman's WRITER'S BUIDE TO BOOK EDITORS, PUBLISHERS AND LITERARY AGENTS (Prima, 1998)

Please do not allow this letter to discourage you. Many best-sellers have been passed on numerous times prior to being successfully published.

We wish you the best of luck finding an enthusiastic agent and publisher for your book.

Agent D

Don't allow rejection after rejection to discourage me? Ok, that's not HARD or anything.

Dear Writer:
Because we receive a high volume of mail, we are unable to respond personally to each query. We appreciate your contacting us about your project, but it does not fit our need to expand our current client list.

We may not request more material because we are not taking on new clients in your genre at this time. We have a broad and balanced list and do not want to represent too many similar books. Perhaps you have written something we don't represent such as sci-fi, fantasy, horror, children's or young adult, sports, essays, scholarly subjects, poetry, cookbooks, gift books, coffee table books, short stories, war memoirs, stage playes or screenplays. Or, we may have recently accepted something that is too simliar, which is often the case with nonfiction. As a matter of personal prefernce, we do not choose to represent works with pervasive themes of physical, sexual or substance abuse, gratuituous vioulence or violation, or those with an unredeemably negative or dark done. It could also be that we just don't feel you are ready for publication yet and are too early in your career. It takes a long time to master the craft of writing - and even the greatest writers were once beginners themselves and received many rejections.

Of the thousands of query letters we receive every year, only about a dozen manuscripts a month are requested. From these, about ten new clients each year are accepted and their work sold to publishers. And even then we have received numerous rejections for writers who are now bestsellers.

We do wish you success in your publishing ambitions and regret the necessity of sending you this form letter response. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to represent you. Our website, has information that you may find helpful in pursuing publication in the future.

Agent N

Whew! Could you just say "no thanks" please? This letter exhausts me. Plus, it has several mistakes in it (I typed as is), so obviously you are not the agent for me. It would help to have an editor that actually knew how to EDIT! Geesh. And it goes on and on and on and on. It may not be this, or it may not be that. I think they forgot
1. It may not be written by a human
2. It may be written by an alien
3. You are not Janet Evanovich
4. You are not Sue Grafton
5. You suck.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Too Good to Last

No sooner did i get excited about my non-rejection letter than I got two more rejection letters. One by email and one by mail. Thhhhbt!

The email kick in the butt:

Dear Carmen,

Thanks very much for sending us your query for (my title) which I have now had the chance to read.

As interesting as your story is, I'm sorry to say that I don't think I'm the right agent for it. Having the right agent is an important match ­ as important as author and publisher ­ and it is also a very subjective decision. So I encourage you to try other agents and wish you every success in finding the best representative for your work.

Best regards,
Agent K

The mail kick in the butt:

Dear Writer:
Thank you for your interest in Agency R (web address). Please know that I appreciate and respect the time, effort and imagination you have put into your manuscript. I wish that time would permit me to respond to your work in a more personal manner, but the volume of submissions that I receive does not allow me to do so. I have read your query letter and brief synopsis and am sorry to write that I am declining further interest in this project. Please feel free to query me with future work.
Agent B
Sigh. This is not an endeavor for the weak hearted.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Woo Hoo!

Well, after many rejection letters, I have another agency that is interested in seeing more of my manuscript. So far, that puts the counts at NOs: 6, MABYEs: 2. Honestly, it's just nice to know that someone thinks my book may have a market.

In addition to being a "good news" email, it was one of the longest ever! I only excerpt highlights here.

Thank you for your query to Agency X. Based on your query form information we would like to see more.

1) Would you please send us an electronic copy of your work for further evaluation? Please email your manuscript to (address here)

2) Would you please answer these 2 questions in the body of the SAME email? (Just copy and paste the questions).

A. How long have you been writing, and what are your goals as a writer?
B. Do you consider your writing 'ready-to-go', or do you think it needs some polishing.

You may send either 3-5 chapters or the entire manuscript, whichever
you are more comfortable sending. Your manuscript is completely safe within our company. We take care to properly manage all access and if we don't end up working together, we delete all files.

We believe that we are unique in that we are willing to develop an author and their talent. We like the metaphor of a "business incubator" as a description of how we will take time to bring an author's work to the proper quality level, even if it takes months to do so. We take pride in the fact that we answer every email personally within 2-3 days. Please, watch your spam filters!

Our job is to find a buyer for you, period. You may understand how a Literary Agency works, but many authors don't. As your Literary Agent, our mission is to assist you in finding a publisher and to coach you along the way in various options available to you. We don't edit, we don't illustrate, our mission is to sell for you.

As for compensation, we get paid on success only,
meaning we only get paid if you get paid. Typically we will receive 10% of what you receive. We do not charge fees, so our compensation is based on success only. Along the way, we may suggest that you continuously improve the quality of your work and or how it is presented. Once your work is deemed 'presentable', then we'll start shopping it to publishers. We never promise a sale, but we can tell you that we have a model that works.

We look forward to receiving your materials.

Best regards,
Agency X

p.s. You might as well get used to these long emails. Part of our filtering process is to see if you actually read them .

Well, if they have a sense of humor, they're going to enjoy my book. :) Here's the kicker: My computer is with the fixit folks. I can't attach the file from my work computer, the filter won't let something that big through. Ugh. Gotta bug the fixit folks.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Rejection by Mail

Oooooh. A mail rejection letter of my very own. I will love it and squeeze it and . . . Dude, this sucks.

I didn't even rate a LETTER! I get my SASE back with a 2x4 card inside that says

Dear Author: (Well, at least I rate being called an author)
Thank you for allowing us to consider your project. On the basis of your description, we do not think that your book will be for us.
We wish you success in your work.
Yours sincerely
(oh, they're SINCERE about rejection)
Agent JR

Um, I've got to say that perhaps its best not to have an agent that clearly can't write a decent rejection letter. "We do not think that your book will be for us"? WTF? Grammar, people, look into it. What is this, the third grade?

Yep, I'm getting bitter. :)

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Another One Bites the Dust

Rejection letter number 6 came via email on SATURDAY. Who rejects someone on a weekend. Wait 'til Monday, geesh.

Dear Carmen,

Thank you for allowing us to consider your novel for representation. We regret that we have decided to pass on the project at this time. Your writing shows many talents, but unfortunately we just didn't fall in love -- and that's what it takes to be able to get behind a book like this in today's marketplace. As agents we need that kind of genuine enthusiasm for a writer's work to best present it to publishers. Any less on our part would be unfair to you, as our presentations would be mediocre at best and probably wouldn't result in a sale.

Nevertheless, we encourage you to continue your search for the right literary representation, as you may find another agent who will respond more favorably to the material. Meanwhile, we often suggest writers attend writers conferences for feedback and assistance in improving their craft and marketing their work (check out for more than 500 listings).

Thank you again for the opportunity to consider your work, and best of luck with your writing endeavors.

Very truly yours,
Agent J

Nice form letter.

As for the writers conferences, yep, I'd love to go to Maui, California, Ireland, Paris, etc. to spend some time writing. Unfortunately, I'm not published yet, so I don't have the royalties to cover that. Catch 22.

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